A school reads a book

Osnabrück, spring 2022

Under the title "A school reads a book" (based on the campaign "Berlin reads a book" from 2021), the Geschwister-Scholl-Oberschule Bad Laer is pursuing the major goal of implementing an interdisciplinary teaching project with additional thematic events. The idea is that all grades of the school (grades 5 to 10) read the same reading at the sametime. The topic of the reading is adapted to the age of the students as well as methodically and didactically motivating.

While searching for a suitable reading material, the project management came across the novel "Weggesperrt" by Grit Poppe. The topic "GDR" as well as the exciting narrative style of the author were decisive in choosing this book for the project.

The subjects of German, politics, history, religion and art will primarily approach the subject of the GDR in various projects and lesson sequences. In addition, an excursion to Berlin in grades 5-10 will enable students to experience German history and the content of the book. The goal is a multi-perspective view of the time before the fall of the Wall. A one-sided view of the GDR should be avoided. The aim is not to focus exclusively on the injustice of the GDR, but also to emphasize the appreciation of the achievements of many former GDR citizens within the system. It is important for the school to avoid a monothematic view of this period.

The novel "Weggesperrt" offers the possibility to reach the students emotionally, to create consternation and to arouse interest in the historical development of the GDR. At the same time, the right to freedom is to be addressed and current global political systems are to be questioned. A critical examination of ethical values and a moral development can be initiated. This also enables a critical questioning of current authoritarian systems in the world.

In order to achieve an in-depth examination within this project, extracurricular events are planned in addition to the use of classroom structures.

Among other things, the author Grit Poppe will be on site for a few days and will offer readings as well as workshops for the students. In addition, contemporary witnesses will visit the high school and talk about their lives in the GDR. Among them will be people who had to spend periods of their lives in the Torgau reformatory.

In addition, the poetry slamer Philip Seiler from Mannheim will be working with some of the classes on a creative writing workshop on the topic of "Freedom - Lack of Freedom".

The art department will erect a model of a wall as a memorial in the schoolyard in Bad Laer. With the support of a graffiti sprayer, the students there will be given the opportunity to artistically and aesthetically deal with the historical past as well as their personal emotions with street art motifs.

If the Corona situation allows it, an excursion to Berlin will be undertaken with grades 5-10 to visit memorials as well as exhibitions and museums on the subject of the GDR. The on-site experience will reinforce what has been read in the novel and the upcoming projects. Questions that already exist can thus be clarified on site and incorporated as "prior knowledge" into the project work.

We will conclude the project with the nationwide Read Aloud Day on November 18, 2022, on which day thematic readings will take place in the school with cooperation partners and community members.

Goals of the project

By working together on a project and exploring a thematic focus with all ages of the school, a sense of community will be developed beyond the individual grades. Older grades will assist the younger grades and prepare and convey more complex content for them (e.g. through class mentorships).

Moreover, not only teachers and students are involved in this project. Parents are also invited to participate in the planning and implementation of events and to contribute their own ideas.

The school's reading concept - with the goal of successfully promoting reading - is based on the idea of awakening motivation and pleasure in reading among our students. In this project, the school sees the opportunity to sensitize the heterogeneous student body to the complex subject matter through cooperative, interdisciplinary learning opportunities. Through the cognitive and creative offers, the students are provided access on different levels and thus the cooperation and independent discussion is activated.

On the content level, the students are offered a deeper historical examination of the founding of the state, the basic features of the political systems of the GDR and FRG against the background of the Cold War, and the path to German unity. They assess the construction of the Wall and state surveillance as a system of injustice and use the book's content and additional media and materials, such as eyewitness accounts, to explore positive and negative aspects of everyday life in the GDR. In addition, the consequences and effects of the merger of East and West Germany are illuminated up to the present day.

As a school with the mission statement "School without Racism", we always strive to engage in conversation with our students about issues that are perceived as unjust. Through critical discussion, we offer children and young people the opportunity to develop and sharpen their understanding of democracy.

Image: (c) Grit Poppe/Hamburg Oetinger Paperback

Public reading on September 15, 2022 in Bad Laer